Love the idea of Gooey Butter Cake but hesitate because of the time required to make a yeast dough for the base? Try this easy version in an overnight French toast; still has all that gooey wonderfulness but much quicker!
Maybe you’ve heard of Gooey Butter Cake? Maybe I need to set the record straight if you think it’s something you make with a cake mix and cream cheese? Happy to oblige!
I’m from St. Louis and while I haven’t been back in a very long time, I don’t think the place of your childhood can every be truly removed from your soul. And mine was more than childhood, I moved from St. Louis when I was 28 years old so a huge part of my life was spent there. Some aspects of the town will never leave me and they include:
- St. Louis Cardinals – I remember waiting for my dad to get home so I could check the stats on every player on the team; I was a young teenage fanatic! They had players for the ages too; Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda; they lived up to my expectations and going to a game was the highlight of my summer. The Rockies are just meh; I’m a Cardinal fan through and through.
- Toasted Ravioli – While not known as an Italian city like others, there is a strong Italian influence and The Hill is an area with great Italian restaurants and this iconic favorite; clearly I have erred by not making a version to share with you on Creative Culinary!
- The Gateway Arch – I watched it being built; we loved going down there before it was completed, seeing that piece of sculpture rise into the sky was probably more exciting than taking a tram ride to the top once it was completed.
- Gooey Butter Cake – A South St. Louis tradition that has spread far beyond St. Louis, it is a yeast bread topped with a sugary, buttery mixture that turns into the ‘gooey’ of the name when baked. There is no substitute, I don’t care what Paula Deen says! I’ve got the recipe for Gooey Butter Cake on this blog with a story about how it came about too.
All that being said; it’s not something I make often. It’s a breakfast treat, not a cake dessert and it takes careful planning to get most components made ahead of time and have it ready for breakfast. I’m sure it’s why someone came up with that easier version but I repeat; cake mix and cream cheese might make a delicious something but IT IS NOT Gooey Butter Cake.
I had a brainstorm one day though and thought…hmm, might I offer this to my readers in a variation that would simplify it and I think I’ve done just that! Instead of making the yeast bread base, I thought it would be fun to try it as Gooey Butter Cake Overnight French Toast. Not unlike others I’ve done (see below for links to those recipes) with layers of bread, eggs, milk and the topping. By George I think I’ve got it!
And maybe the best part is really how simple it is to make when not having to make a yeast dough first but still achieve the part that really mattered. That ooey, gooey, buttery business on the top! When I was a kid, I admit…I ate the top part and fed the dog the base under the table. She didn’t mind. 🙂
Thinking myself brilliant beyond belief, I did what I often do and search to make sure no one else had achieved this nirvana and lo and behold; I had company! Emily at Love ya Bunches had done almost exactly the same thing excepting she used Challah bread where I stuck to the more lowly French bread; both would be great, hers a bit richer.
I also mixed together a bit of maple syrup with some blackberries; I wanted to be able to serve a syrup too. Because the cake topping is so sweet, I wanted my own syrup tempered a bit and the blackberries did the trick; their tartness worked beautifully.
This was a huge hit for breakfast and something I’m so glad to have in my repertoire for holiday mornings. I love serving something nice but it’s really nice if I can make it the night before! Gooey Butter Cake Overnight French Toast might not be something that started with a childhood tradition for you but don’t wait now…it will surely become one.
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Gooey Butter Cake Overnight French Toast
An easier but still wonderful version of Gooey Butter Cake, this overnight French toast casserole is a breeze to make.
For the Baked French Toast
- 1 loaf French bread sliced into 1-inch slices
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
For the Gooey Butter Topping
- 1 1/2 sticks butter softened (3/4 cups or 6 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk at room temperature
- 1 cup cake flour
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Grease a large (9X13-inch) baking pan with butter (or use cooking spray). Arrange the slices in the pan to fit, overlapping slightly if necessary.
Whisk together the eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined and pour the mixture over the bread slices.
Gooey Butter Topping
Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and corn syrup in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
On medium low speed add 1 egg and mix until combined. Then mix in the other egg and the vanilla extract.
Add the milk and cake flour and mix on low speed to combine. Scrape down the bowl and give it a final stir.
Dollop the butter topping over the bread and smooth out. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until the bread has puffed slightly and the gooey butter topping has started to brown around the edges and is a light golden brown. If the edges are browning but the center needs more time, cover the outer edge with aluminum foil and continue baking.
Dust lightly with powdered sugar, and serve.
It is especially good with something more savory on the side to balance the sweetness; we love bacon and a tart blackberry syrup that was a great addition. Simple mash up some blackberries and combine them with maple syrup in a medium size pan. Heat till simmering and let bubble for five minutes or until the blackberries have softened and released their juices. Drain through a sieve to remove the blackberry seeds before serving.